One of the Safest, Easiest Ways for Dividend Investors to Play the Emerging Markets

Here’s a trivia question courtesy of High-Yield International’s Chief Strategist, Paul Tracy: What’s the world’s most popular brand of beer?

Budweiser? Close, but no cigar. Belgium-based (yes, Belgium) Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD) is the worlds’ largest brewer. And its top brand isn’t Budweiser, but Bud Light. Even so, Bud Light is only the world’s second-most popular brand of beer.

#-ad_banner-#If you’re a subscriber to High-Yield International, then you already know the correct answer: Snow beer. 

Never heard of it? That’s not surprising. After all, Snow is the most popular brand in China. It’s a product of China Resources Snow Breweries, a joint venture owned by U.K.-based SABMiller (OTC: SBMRY) and Chinese conglomerate China Resources Enterprise (OTC: CRHKY)

Snow Breweries is estimated to control 5% of the global beer market by sales volume, more than Bud Light and Budweiser combined. Five percent may not sound like much, but it comes to more than 17 billion bottles of beer a year.

So why bring all this up? 

Featured in the current issue of High-Yield International is a look at a sector that typically weathers periods of economic uncertainty in profitable fashion — alcohol and tobacco companies. 

Such companies may not be to every investor’s taste, but there is no arguing what they can do for your money.

Thanks to global economic concerns, investors have flocked to this stable corner of the market. Indeed, the four tobacco and alcohol stocks in Paul’s High-Yield International model portfolios have provided average total returns of 11.5% year to date. 

But that’s only part of the story. 

I’m not telling you anything new by recommending defensive stocks when the market is volatile. But what I don’t think most people know is that some of the best opportunities in this arena aren’t even based in the United States.

As disposable income and middle classes expand in China and other emerging markets, so does demand for goods and services, including alcohol and tobacco products.

In the case of beer, while sales languish in the United States (down 1% in 2011, according to the Brewers Association, a trade group) and much of the West, sales are on the rise in China and other emerging-market countries — and with room to run. 

On a per-capita basis, Chinese consumers drink just a little more than 37 liters of beer per person per year, compared with 77 liters in the United States, 72 in Brazil and 115 for Germany, according to Paul’s High-Yield International research.

As Paul noted in his latest issue, that’s especially good news for the aforementioned SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer.

In the fiscal year ended March 31, more than three-fourths of SABMiller’s EBITDA came from emerging markets.

About a third of SABMiller’s EBITDA originated in Latin America, and the company had the strongest position of any brewer in the fast-growing African market. Of course, it also owns a large stake in the world’s most-popular beer, Snow. All told, SABMiller owns more than 200 individual beer brands.

Better yet, since the start of June the shares are up 17%.

Admittedly, SABMiller won’t blow anyone away with its dividend, which currently sits at just 2% a year (that’s still higher than Anheuser-Busch). Paul usually shies away from investments with yields that low. His average portfolio holding within High-Yield International yields nearly 7%.

But the company has been rapidly boosting its payout in recent years, increasing dividends to U.S. shareholders by 12% in the past year, and an average of more than 17% annualized during the past three years.

Furthermore, Paul believes SABMiller could boost its full-year payout by 12% to 15% per year over the next few years, in line with long-term earnings growth. 

But what about buying the shares of international companies like SABMiller?

The good news is that investing in foreign markets is easier than ever.

You can buy shares of American depositary receipts (ADRs). The name sounds complex, but I assure you that ADRs are very easy to understand. ADRs trade right here in the United States just like any other stock. You can buy them just as easily as you would a share of Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) or General Electric (NYSE: GE).

But not every company elects to have their shares trade as ADRs on the U.S. markets. That’s why you’ll also find many large foreign companies that trade “over the counter.”

Most people equate this exchange with risky penny stocks. But major global companies like Adidas (OTC: ADDYY), Roche (OTC: PHHBY), BASF (OTC: BASFY), and yes, SABMiller, trade here.

Risks to Consider: Of course, with investing nothing is 100% certain. Investing abroad isn’t guaranteed to make you money. But if you’re ignoring what can be found in the international markets, there’s no doubt you’re missing out on some of the world’s best investment opportunities.

Action to Take –> In general, you’ll find international companies simply pay higher yields than their U.S. counterparts. Consider that while 17 profitable companies in the United States yield 12% or more, there are more than 200 such stocks abroad. 

For more information, Paul has put together a special presentation outlining more about investing in high-yielding international companies — including several names and ticker symbols. You can watch the presentation here. Or, if you prefer to see the text version, visit this link. (Please note that Paul has included the names and ticker symbols of the 17 U.S. stocks yielding above 12% in this presentation.)